No matter how many likes you can chalk up on Instagram with the perfect selfie, making the switch from your personal social media to generating an online strategy in a work context can be tricky.
But social media in a work context has many potential benefits. Here we gain expert insight and advice on how to harness the power of social media.
Encourage staff to raise their social media game
The use of social media apps during working hours is often a huge taboo for most employers but it doesn’t have to be. Fluency with Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can also create business opportunities and boost a company’s brand if applied effectively.
Employers can encourage their staff to develop skills they may have taken for granted to boost not only their own professional profiles but also to raise their company’s social media game to maximum its impact on today’s digital landscape.
Tom Szekeres, a tech consultant and digital marketing expert, offers training on how businesses, from start-ups to corporates can leverage social media to improve brand-building, sales and communications by tailoring content to the right audience.
Szekeres stresses that “authenticity and being yourself” is a winner for both individuals and brands who want to harness the power of social media.
If you are aiming to develop a purposeful strategy then you must focus instead on revealing solutions to your clients’ problems and communicating valuable information to potential customers, argued Szekeres.
“If you want your content to do well then you need to ask yourself what people will stop and watch for more than a few seconds,” he advised.
The UK government’s digital service guidelines offer a helpful “playbook” on how to maximise your online business strategy, he said, but it’s also important to set your own boundaries before you set out about what you will and will not accept.
Personal vs professional use
Jodie Cook, a social media entrepreneur, who runs the JC Social Media Agency said that having familiarity with social media networks for personal use was beneficial but that it was crucial to keep in mind that social media in a business capacity was a different ball game.
“It’s important to keep learning and exploring all the functionalities available on each platform and the latest tactics,” she said.
Refusing to engage in social media is no longer an option in the business world and every company should have an idea of how to generate opportunities through a basic online presence.
Being able to develop ideas for company content that could help build traction online and portray the business well, will no doubt be a career boost.
Create opportunities to help less media-savvy colleagues
Millennials can be particularly helpful in the workplace by transforming their personal social media knowledge to help colleagues who are less comfortable with their online presence.
LinkedIn, the professional networking site, could be an ideal cross-generational starting point as it enables members of a team to easily make connections and links that could advance the business and reach a range of new audiences.
Building your own personal brand and professional profile can be done by creating a strong network and profile on prominent social networks, she said. “Making connections, building your influence and crafting your personal brand helps you stand out to potential employers and prospects.”
LinkedIn is an obvious place to start in a professional context because its focus is 100% work-related.
Mastering LinkedIn is essential
Knowing how to use LinkedIn is key, she stressed. Adding your qualifications, accolades and examples of your work will showcase your ability.
“Collecting endorsements and recommendations will also help portray you as an expert in your field. Sharing relevant content to your feed, on LinkedIn and other networks, helps portray you as someone who understands their work and is passionate about it.”
As Szekeres argued, a personal, authentic voice is key to making an impact, agreed Cook.
“An individual’s social media presence has become an extension of themselves and their personality. Just like you adopt a certain behaviour in a professional or commercial setting, your online behaviour needs to reflect this difference.”
Pay attention to detail
Bear in mind that any misspellings and grammatical errors are in full view and give a bad first impression especially in a business context. “Even if what you’re sharing is amazing, little mistakes give the impression you don’t take the time to check and take pride in your work,” cautioned Cook.
Finally, vary your use of social media. LinkedIn is an obvious place to start for companies as most professionals have a profile and are open to connecting.
However, other social media sites like Twitter can offer an excellent place to find out about local networking events and then connect with contacts afterwards.
“For accountants and those operating within the professional services, Facebook is likely to have some value if you can grow a business page. Facebook ads can be run to very specific audiences; even B2B businesses can generate interest and leads from them” said Cook.
It’s no longer just an option for businesses to utilise social media, it’s a must. By spending time getting your staff up to speed on the latest platforms and tactics this could help identify new opportunities and grow your contacts within the industry.
- UK government digital service guidelines
- Jodie Cook: social media ebooks
- Instagram local business pages – a helpful tool for SME’s?
Nicola Smith has spent a decade reporting for The Sunday Times on both the European Union and South Asia.